Kyrgyzstan
1
World Cup Qualifiers
(Tue 16 Jun 2015, 08.00PM LOCAL)
FINAL
Venue: Stadion im. Dolena Omurzakova
Fox Sports
SBS
Australia
2

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Socceroos out to dominate Kyrgyzstan

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FFA TV | Soccerooos to impose themselves
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FFA TV | Ange: Pitch part of the challenge
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Socceroos out to dominate Kyrgyzstan
Socceroos out to dominate Kyrgyzstan
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Socceroos arrive in Bishkek
Socceroos arrive in Bishkek

Preview: Socceroos v Kyrgyzstan

Wednesday morning’s (AEST) opening FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifier against Kyrgyzstan in Bishkek marks the start of long journey fans of the Socceroos hope ends with a berth at their fourth consecutive World Cup.

Ange Postecoglou’s whirlwind tenure has already seen him take the Socceroos to a World Cup, before an historic Asian Cup triumph on home soil in January.

But it’s qualifying the Socceroos for a major tournament that the Aussie boss is desperate to achieve.

The first test presents an unknown challenge for the Asian champions. Playing a footballing minnow in a city most Australians have never heard of is the first hurdle.

The 177th-ranked nation of the former Soviet Union state aren’t expected to present too much of an obstacle for the Socceroos but there’s no chance the Aussies will treat this lightly. No chance. 

Defender Trent Sainsbury, playmaker Massimo Luongo and attacker Robbie Kruse are unavailable due to injury meaning there will be at least three changes from the side helped lift the Asian Cup on that memorable night in January.

Inside the Socceroos: meet Ange's analyst

Alex Wilkinson – in season and in form with K-League club Jeonbuk Motors - probably has his nose in front of Bailey Wright to partner Matthew Spiranovic at centre-back.

James Troisi is expected to get the nod in the no.10 role, alongside skipper Mile Jedinak and Mark Milligan in midfield, while either Nathan Burns or Tommy Oar should have one of the wide roles with Mathew Leckie.

It will be a familiar duo at either ends of the pitch with Tim Cahill to spearhead the attack and the in-form Mat Ryan to start in goal.

The fullback roles are probably the position causing the most conjecture.

Does Postecoglou stick with the tried and trusted Ivan Franjic and Jason Davidson or go with Tarek Elrich and Aziz Behich?

The latter two have played consistently for their club sides throughout their recent seasons – with Adelaide United and Bursaspor respectively – but Franjic and Davidson have never let the Socceroo jersey down.

The Socceroos would have got a good look at what is likely to confront them on Wednesday after Kyrgyzstan opened their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 3-1 win away to Bangladesh last week.

Anton Zemlyanuhin – who scored a brace in that match – was their standout player.

Socceroos' opponents win opening World Cup qualifier

The Kyrgyzstan skipper is central defender Azamat Baymatov and his battle with Cahill will be a doozy.

This will be an opportunity for the Socceroos to lay down a firm marker they mean business in this round of qualifying.

Postecoglou won’t just demand a victory but also a dominant performance that results in goals.

In little-known Bishkek, Australia begins on their long Road to Russia. 

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Socceroos relieved with opening win Play Video

Socceroos relieved with opening win

Socceroos defender Alex Wilkinson admitted the side were relieved to win their opening World Cup qualifier.

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Kyrgyzstan clash great experience: Ange

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Socceroos edge opening WCQ

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Socceroos relieved with opening win
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Kyrgyzstan clash great experience: Ange
Kyrgyzstan clash great experience: Ange
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Socceroos edge opening WCQ
Socceroos edge opening WCQ

Socceroos edge opening World Cup qualifier

The Socceroos have made a winning start to their World Cup qualifying campaign, holding off a determined Kyrgyzstan to record a hard-fought 2-1 win in Bishkek on Tuesday.

Goals in the first and second half respectively from captain Mile Jedinak and substitute Tommy Oar sealed all three points for Ange Postecoglou's Asian champions, who are attempting to reach a fourth successive World Cup finals at Russia 2018.

Australia made a flying start to the game at a packed Dolen Omurzakov Stadium in the early hours of Wednesday morning (AEST), charging forward from kick-off and winning a free-kick through Mathew Leckie, whose driving run ended in a body check by Azamat Baimatov.

Skipper Jedinak scored directly from the subsequent free-kick, his low strike kicking up off the uneven surface and eluding goalkeeper Valery Katsuba.

If head coach Ange Postecoglou or the visiting players hoped that early blow would break Kyrgyzstan's resistance before it had even begun, they would be disappointed.

The Central Asian side, ranked 177th in the world, mounted a forceful response and enjoyed by far the better of the rest of the half, creating dangerous opportunities and threatening Mathew Ryan's goal on several occasions through the likes of Mirlan Murzaev and Vitalij Lux, with Anton Zemlianukhin pulling the strings.

Australia by contrast barely mustered another opening after the move that led to the first goal, as Kyrgyzstan's daring high defensive line and offside trap denied time and space to the Socceroos' midfielders and forwards. 

It was more of the same from the hosts after the break, Murzaev in particular rampaging down the left and winning a succession of corners in the first 10 minutes of the second half. 

The 25-year-old went close to equalising with a back-heeled attempt after being found by a long throw in the 53rd minute. It took a fortuitous block and some more desperate defending to scramble the ball away, a familiar story for Australia's overworked backline. 

Seeking to wrest some of the momentum back in his team's favour, Postecoglou introduced Oar in place of Nathan Burns in the 56th minute. The substitution paid off handsomely as the free agent, who left Utrecht at the end of last season, began to cause the hosts problems with his pace and directness on the left flank.

Just 10 minutes after coming on, the forward was released in behind the Kyrgyzstan defence by an outstanding Mark Milligan through-ball. Oar received the delivery, raced clear of his nearest opponent and slotted a good finish beyond Katsuba and into the far corner of the net. 

It was harsh on Alexander Krestinin's side, who had dominated the game since going behind without managing to force the goal their tireless efforts deserved.

When they did finally breach the Socceroos' backline, it took a handball by substitute Almazbek Mirzaliev to bundle the ball home at the back post from an injury-time corner. The infringement went unnoticed by the match officials, but effort arrived too late for the home team to mount a comeback.

Kyrgyzstan's vocal supporters must console themselves with memories of an entertaining clash against the regional heavyweights, while Australia's attentions turn to a home game against Bangladesh in Perth on September 3, when Postecoglou is likely to demand a far more measured, assured performance from his troops. 

Match Details

Kyrgyzstan 1 (Azamat Baimatov 90’+2)

Australia 2 (Mile Jedinak 2’, Tommy Oar 67’)

Socceroos Lineup: 1. Mat Ryan (gk), 2. Ivan Franjic, 4. TimCahill (9. Tomi Juric 87’), 5. Mark Milligan, 6. Matthew Spiranovic, 7. Mathew Leckie, 13. Aziz Behich, 14. James Troisi (17. Matt McKay 71’), 15. Mile Jedinak, 16. Nathan Burns (11. Tommy Oar 56’), 22. Alex Wilkinson